From the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key:
October 25: Priesthood Sunday in the Year For Priests
By Most Rev. Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City – St. Joseph
We have in our Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph quite a number of fine folks actively engaged as members of the Serra Clubs. Founded under the patronage of Blessed Junipero Serra, the Franciscan Friar who founded the missions in California, these clubs have as their focus the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and Religious life, and the prayerful support of priests, sisters, brothers, and seminarians. Several local Serra clubs meet in different parts of the diocese, and they do so much to encourage our clergy and Religious. Recently in what has become an annual event, Serra and many others, hosted the Priest and Seminarian Appreciation Golf Tournament and dinner. They honored our priests from KCSJ, and our neighbor, the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. It was clear to all of our priests that these good friends really do care about them.
Serra Club International is sponsoring Priesthood Sunday this weekend, October 24 and 25. They are inviting all of us to thank God for the gift and grace of our priests, to pray for them, and perhaps even to tell them that we love them and support them. This year’s observance is extraordinary because it falls within the Year for Priests called by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
All of our parishes have been given prayer cards to distribute, which have a special Prayer for Our Priests. You can find the text on this page. I hope you will pray this prayer, or offer your own prayer with special devotion throughout this year (and beyond!)
One thing that has been very apparent to me from the beginning of my time as bishop is the awareness that I am being supported spiritually by your prayers. I am completely convinced that my mistakes and imperfections as bishop would be even greater except for your prayers. I thank you for this gift, and I ask you to please lift up your parish priest in prayer, and all our priests, living and dead. We need this for our own holiness and as a source of strength and perseverance in our vocation.
In speaking of the Year for Priests the Vatican has said that it ought to be a “period of intense appreciation of the priestly identity, of the theology of Catholic priesthood, and of the extraordinary meaning of the vocation and mission of priests within the Church and society.”
The Pope in his declaration for this Year stressed that “the correct appreciation of the ministerial priesthood, focused on the mystery of the Incarnate Christ at the center of His people, reminds us that without this ordained priesthood, there would be neither the Eucharist, nor even the mission, nor the Church herself.” Without our priests we could not have the Eucharist. The priests’ ministry of the Word, likewise, has a special efficacy. They participate uniquely in the bishop’s ministry to “teach, lead, and sanctify” the people of God. I could not fulfill my responsibilities without them.
The Pope, very mindful of our weaknesses as human beings, has asked us to pray for the purity of priests (and bishops). As we seek to live out our calling in a far-reaching and generous love, a celibate love for each person entrusted to our care, we need God’s help. Our service must be humble and unselfish, looking for every opportunity to assist people in reaching the goal of heaven. In docility to the Holy Spirit, and in faithful obedience to the Magisterium, we must offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments in a manner that inspires holiness, and builds unity.
With you I am thankful for all the priests who have helped me come to know and love Jesus Christ. I am grateful to our priests who day after day are with us, and available to us, in the most wonderful and the most difficult circumstances of our lives.
I wish to thank Serra for promoting Priesthood Sunday as an occasion for us to honor our priests: servant-leaders, spiritual fathers, and pastors of our souls. I commend them to Mary, Mother of Priests, and pray that God will bless them now and always.
A PRAYER FOR OUR PRIESTS
We thank you, God our Father, for those who have
responded to your call to priestly ministry. Accept
this prayer we offer on their behalf: Fill your priests with
the sure knowledge of your love. Open their hearts to the
power and consolation of the Holy Spirit. Lead them to new
depths of union with your Son. Increase in them profound
faith in the Sacraments they celebrate as they nourish,
strengthen and heal us.
Lord Jesus Christ, grant that these, your priests, may inspire
us to strive for holiness by the power of their example, as
men of prayer who ponder your word and follow your will.
O Mary, Mother of Christ and our mother, guard with your
maternal care these chosen ones, so dear to the Heart of
your Son. Intercede for our priests that, offering the
Sacrifice of your Son, they may be conformed more each
day to the image of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus
St. John Vianney, universal patron of priests,
pray for us and our priests.